Woodturning Classes

The recent discussion in other threads about woodturning classes and
teaching has gotten me to wondering about everybodies experiences in this.
I'm also asking this because one of my woodturning clubs is partnering with
a local woodworking store (provides facilities) and the regional technical
community college (provides advertising and administration) to provide
adult education woodturning classes through that college. The college is
mainly a high technology, practical workforce type of college but does all
kinds of other classes as well.
The woodturning club is charged with coming up with a lesson plan, fees
rate, time period, and basically everything related to putting on and
teaching the class. I've never attended a woodturning class before and
don't know how most of them are arranged concerning their lesson schedules,
etc. We're looking at something like a 4 to 6 week class but everything,
and I mean EVERYTHING, is up to us. We can have as many classes as we want,
charge what we want (obviously we don't want to price the class out of
existance), and teach what we want. I'm sure we're going to start out with
a beginners class but may add more classes at different levels down the road
depending on interest.
If you've been to a class, what did you like? What would you have liked
better? If you've taught such class, do you have any tips regarding
- Andrew
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Concerning classes: I was in a local consortium gallery, saw some wood turning, called the person, and he said "Sure I give classes all the time." Come to find out this guy will do private classes for $10 for 2 and 1/2 hours! What a bargain. I've been 4 times so far and it's been worth every penny. I had a friend who was also interested so he is going also. Our teacher charges $10 per person no matter how many go. He also pointed me to the local Woodcrafter Guild.
As far as your question about what does he do...he has a set routine. First week all about the lathe, safety, etc. He turned a Christmas ornament and a little box demonstarting spindle techniques. 2nd week was vase (test tube in the middle) and we got to try one on our lathes. 3rd week was a ball and we made one. 4th was a small bowl and then what do you want to do? and I think the agenda is now up to us. His procedure is typically, he makes the object then we do. He is very good at helping, one of his best techniques is with us holding the chisel or gouge and his hands guiding ours until we get the picture. Last week he "made" me use a gouge over and over and over to cut down some waste and practice rubbing the bevel so I got a smooth cut--I was and am having problems with that.
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I guess I didn't answer the question directly, but what I have liked the best is that after the basics, he has taken time to answer specfic questions about any problems we have had during the week. When I was trying to undercut a side of a bowl unsuccessfully, he showed me a gouge that would work and gave me plans to grind one out of an excess chisel or allen wrench. I also like that he has given "homework". When he demonstated ornaments, he gave a handout with a dozen ornaments on it and encouraged us to try them during the week. This has been the pattern each week.
Can't think of anything I would like better. It's the classic tell you about it, show you, have you do it technique. Can't be beat.
I might add that he also teaches a course through the community college.
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I've had classes with a few of the experts: Rude Osolnik-two students, lots of close supervision and some great demonstrations and discussions by a dedicated teacher turner.
Russ Zimmerman (my first): no down in Florida, formerly in Vermont. - two students, lots of close supervision and demonstrations and helpful suggestions.
Johannes Michaelson class of two. Lots of demonstrating, supervising, explicating.
David Ellsworth: FIVE man class--too large. Disappointingly little individual attention. More philosophical discussions than detailed explanations.
Having the teacher there at your shoulder to help with body position, tool movements as well as help with sharpening is a sine qua non
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Aside from good vs bad teaching tricks, you need to look at this from the potential body of students instead of individual experiences. Here in San Diego, the San Diego Woodturning Centre offers a "Beginners" weekend class (about 14 hours of instruction) and a 2-day evening "Beginners" class offered on two consecutive evenings. They also have a project class on a weekend (14 hours) and an intermediate class (14 hours). Their experince is that they have a pretty steady stream of beginners with 1-3 students in the evening and weekend beginners classes. They offer these about 4 time per month. The project and intermediate classes are only offered once a month each and have less attendance.
As an ongoing class offer, you may want to consider that you will have new students many time over that feed into the local club(s), etc. Higher end courses are offered less frequently.
Also, I find that the more experienced people seem to get what they want from the turning club interactions and from "pro demonstrators/classes". The problem with pro classes is cost. How many people can afford two or three $300-$400 3-day classes each year? Not many.
my 2 cents Joe Fleming - San Diego
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Joe Fleming
I'll take it all. This is a from-the-ground-up type of thing and I can use advice from all corners and perspectives.
We will have a much smaller population pool to draw from as well. We're going to be developing a community college non-credits course running anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Probably once a week for 3 to 4 hour sessions. The woodturning club (there's only one within several hours) is just offering the instructors. We're starting with only one class and I'm sure it'll be a beginners class. Depending on response, we might add a more advanced class down the road a bit. I can see where the more advanced classes will have less demand and the really advanced classes probably wouldn't draw much interest in a case like this.
I'm not sure I follow you here. Are you saying that putting on these classes will increase our club membership or at least interest in the club? If so, then that's a good thing and one of the clubs' motivators in partnering with the community college on this.
Yeah, that makes sense. I don't see this as being an issue for our situation. We're not going to offer those kinds of classes anyway just for those reasons. There seems to be plenty of these "pro classes/instruction" and traveling demonstrators around the country.
You've given us some different things to consider. Part of what we were wondering about was what people that might take a community college course would be interested in. Such things as just doing a "general introduction to woodturning" thing or should it be geared more toward developing a crafts career (ie architectural or furniture woodturning). Not that it has to be one or the other but whether there needed to be a distinction in the first place. We have a lot of thinking to do.
Thanks, Joe!
- Andrew
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I think I was in a group of five also, and I know I came away a better turner. He probably thought I was the worse turner of the group, but I can do things now I couldn't do before taking his class.
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